June 27, 2011 · 8:32 pm
This is just one of many variations on a common argument these days about artistic oversupply, inter(hyper)connectivity and the general ennui that many of the more vocal type of music fan seems to find themselves in these days. It’s too easy; it’s undervalued; a whole generation does not value what we used to value; the embarrassment of riches.
I don’t understand these arguments. I do not “get it”. I keep trying and failing.
(Somewhere, someone with a degree in missing the point sums up all of these things as “first-world problems” or, more commonly, “white people problems”.) Continue reading →
March 2, 2011 · 9:38 pm
Yes, yes, y’all, it’s not hipster, elitist hype — vinyl sounds better. Much better. There is actual music in those grooves. Technically speaking, there is no music whatsoever on a CD. Lots of information but no music.
Yes, yes, y’all, I know it’s supposed to be a metaphor and a commentary (unwitting or not) on the atavistic power we imbue objects with, but c’mon. Using that tortured line of reasoning his column isn’t actually language, just a computer spitting out numbers and stuff.
Add a text-to-speech program and it isn’t even reading.
To be fair, Hank is what he is and he is damn good at being what he is. And I don’t disagree about the power of youth, of objects, of the way things used to be, of taking care and control. But he’s also completely ridiculous, and probably not entirely unintentionally.
I think most music fans of the oldster variety would agree that walking up to their 12 year old (pre-internet, pre-mp3) budding music dork selves and saying “See this thing that looks like a deck of playing cards? There are hundreds of albums on this with no tape hiss and you can hear new music in seconds.” The only thing coming close to being more exciting than introducing the files-without-borders world of internet music distribution to our pre-internet selves would be introducing global pornography distribution to that same set of chronic masturbators.
February 25, 2011 · 11:08 am
If nothing else, it takes stones to ask a complete stranger to fuck over their professional reputation for the sake of your own instant gratification.
Now, I’m not a fan of Panda Bear, Ariel Pink, or the rest of the shit-pop-drowned-in-reverb “hauntology”* thing; I’d even go so far as to say the entire concept should drop the Derrida-isms and just call it pastiche. It’s the T.G.I. Friday’s of music, much like mashups are the backyard wrestling of DJ’ing. But to expect some degree of discipline when the objects of sound art contain no inherent cost for most of their listeners is foolish.
Having spent more than a few minutes revealing the lazy fakery on the part of students submitting papers they swear were written days ago and somehow lost in the electro-aether (a modern “dog ate my homework” excuse, but even less believable), I’d even go so far as to call it generational.
These kids grew up with cultural objects being easy to appropriate and basically free to distribute. Yes, it probably means they appreciate music far less than record nerds from 20 or 30 years earlier do, but that’s not only true of most everyone else who grew up back then but also the nature of living at a certain time. We all appreciated not getting polio very, very little in the 70s and 80s.
So “free stuff yay!” is a condition of their existence**, and it’s not going to change unless various doomsayers are right and we get all post-apocalyptic up in here. Having grown up on doom-and-gloom (contrary to popular reimaginings, narratives of impending nuclear and ecological destruction were constant companions in grammar school), I suppose “free stuff for everybody yay!” is something of a decent half-step up in terms of childhood memetic clusters, but it seems to make for fairly shitty proto-adults with no concept of the Real.
That this is an echo of an argument made about every generation since generations were generated is just another bittersweet ha-ha on the road to death.
*Yes, I realize this term is also applied to groups like Demdike Stare and anyone else who samples records from the 70s. It’s still T.G.I. Friday’s, and wholly unremarkable in that sampling and thematic throwbacks have been with us for a long, long time.
**Cheap jokes about bailed-out billionaire banks and spoiled public sector unions and everyone else feeding from the rotted nipples of Leviathan can be deployed or discarded as you wish.
March 4, 2010 · 9:59 pm
Though I often throw stones at their staff’s lack of research into the particular esoterica I’m familiar with, this piece on the resurgence of cassettes is exceptionally well done. I grew up listening to cassettes, so the whole thing is mostly baffling, but the economics of it make a bit of sense. There’s also the unique exclusivity of using a dead medium, without the bratty edge of the folk who put out stuff on 8-track.*
As mentioned in this post, my efforts to find out more about a band called Leech** will apparently involves a cassette label.
Neat-ish, but problematic. I have no way to play the things.
I haven’t used a cassette deck in about fifteen years, and there’s plenty of good reasons why. The sound quality kinda sucks it and the hissing is irritating. They break. They’re linear to a fault.
The single greatest thing about my first cd player (which I got by trading Garage Days Re-revisited to a friend’s older brother) was the ability to listen to the same song over and over again. I could not have been more blown of mind than had you showed me an iPhone.
* (They’re dicks.)
** A glib description would be Godspeed You Black Metal Emperor, but a more evocative (and accurate) take is Slint sent forward in time to live in a cabin and write overly long jams that just happen to be stunning.
September 17, 2009 · 10:18 am
Someone took Coil and Duran Duran and smushed them up into one package. I never cared for anything from Health before this album, but there’s a depth and fractured 80s weirdness here that’s lovely. And lovely like Gold is the Metal…, not the totally shit return of New Wave DEAR GOD MAKE IT STOP routine that’s current pummeling us from coast to coast.
I am somewhat prescient when it comes to musical trends, and like I’ve told many a person popular music will be dominated by a disco/hip hop fusion (the beginnings of which can be seen with the rise – and fall – of vocoding and are manifested most succinctly in Lady Gaga aka Peaches 3.0). But for the rest of the landscape, much of it will be seeing the 80s experimental current come alive again, and not just at Throbbing Gristle shows. Hell, just look at the cover! Continue reading →
May 18, 2009 · 9:15 am
Whether intended to be a cute reimagining of the mid-90s intersection of acid and jungle or merely a nostalgia trip, Numbers Lucent is unfortunately another documentation of how the mighty have fallen into less-mighty ways. For all of the bright coloring (the cover art is amazing) in many ways this is merely a retread of Squarepusher‘s own work, especially Burningn’n Tree, itself a serviceable and enjoyable romp of straightforward bleepy drill n’ bass. While certainly not terrible nor badly-produced, this six song EP is also not very interesting for very long, though it helps that each track ducks out at around the four minute mark.
I admit to not really having paid much attention since Go Plastic; it would appear that my laziness was prudence in disguise.
May 7, 2009 · 12:43 pm
Some of the more interesting current music fads include MBV reconfigurations, usually with several ladies in the mix; the emergence of “hipster metal”; and lo-fi quirk-rock, of which there has been a steady underground that is righteously pissed at the success of johnny-fuzz-lately types like Wavves.
Sour fuzzy grapes aside, the cultural current that interests me most is the pastoral retreat, and not just because pretty girls in peasant dresses lends sensual surreality to any concert experience. It seemed to bubble and rumble in the wake of the beginnings of the Iraq War and no doubt will continue percolate through this whole temporary recession/destruction of everything and everyone period.* One response to having no discernible power is to withdraw from the culture and its trappings, and to look back at what was imagined to have been.
A kind of conservatism, even, which is the closest thing to a slur that you can bust out during these days of hope und change, and so I don’t engage in such madness lightly. Continue reading →
March 27, 2009 · 10:05 am
There’s retro and then there’s frozen in time.
There’s a revivalist techno thing going on with labels like Dust Science and Soma, and specifically the resurgence of B12 and these guys.
A bit of history – back in the day, The Black Dog was the two dudes from Plaid (before they were Plaid) and Ken Downie. The two dudes left to go do their Plaid thing and Ken kinda fucked around for a while before hitting a new stride in the mid-00s. Beyond all the reissues there was some new material.
Now, if you did the whole “desert island discs” thing becuase you’re old enough to remember when such a postulation was a fun parlour game for music nerds, I would have put 1995’s Spanners album on that list. Very high on that list, in fact, as it is the essential IDM-sounding release. Warp Records + mid-90s + these guys = classic. It’s held up quite well as one long, flowing piece. Neither techno nor braindance, it can cut a rug but it’s a bit more meaty than beaty. And it just sounds so lush, so…like a hair care commercial talking about the wonders of thick, shiny hair, but with sounds that hit your ears. Continue reading →
September 2, 2008 · 7:55 pm
Drunk record shopping is a special pleasure best reserved for a few occasions each year when pocketbook and pocketwatch both are giving a hearty thumbs up to your endeavors. Like record shopping while blazed, the drunken cd spree tempers one’s natural skepticism with an open heart and an open mind; unlike weed-driven browsing, shopping while soused will not take three hours and result in no purchases. Exuberance can be hard on the pocketbook, but even enjoyable indecision leads to a non-buyer’s remorse hours later.
You know the time was wasted, if not exactly how.
What cannot be recommended, however, is shopping with a loving heart while under no (natural or artificial) chemical alterations, because you just stone cold make poor fucking decisions about everyone and everything involved. Good intentions are a vampire that takes the great things from life and replaces them with nonsense.
This is one of those stories.
Continue reading →